20 Questions Your Boss Is Not Legally Allowed to Ask You

The workplace should be a professional environment free from discrimination and harassment. While employers have the authority to ask questions regarding legal work obligations, there are certain personal boundaries they cannot cross. Whether it’s an invasion of privacy or an unfair request, here are 20 examples of things your boss is legally prohibited from asking of you.

Questions About Your Race, Religion, Skin Color, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Disability

Photo Credit: Andrii Iemelianenko/Shutterstock

Unless the question is relevant to your workplace needs or professional abilities, such topics are off-limits to your boss. According to the FTC, personal information like this is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, making it illegal for an employer to ask inappropriate or discriminatory questions.

Details About Your Marital Status or Family Planning

Photo Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Your personal life choices outside of work are not your employer’s concern. Inquiries about your marital status, whether you plan to have children, are currently pregnant, or other family matters are not permitted. So long as you inform your employer of any upcoming leave (like maternity) according to your contract, your obligations are fulfilled.

Your Medical History

Photo Credit: Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Unless your employer needs to make changes to accommodate your medical condition or disability, they have no right to question you about it. The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace, and your boss cannot use your health issues as an excuse to change things like your salary, official position, or status.

Your Age

Photo Credit: Alexander Raths/Shutterstock

Of course, your age will be listed on your employee file and identification documents, but your boss is not allowed to use age or questions about your age to discriminate against you. The U.S. Department of Labor states this is illegal, according to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which protects individuals over 40 from age-related discrimination.

Your Political Affiliation

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

So long as you’re not letting politics interfere with your work, your political views and affiliations are protected under the First Amendment and have no bearing on your job performance. Your employer cannot ask you which political party you are in, who you voted for, question your beliefs, or pressure you into political discussions.

Your Criminal History (Unless Job-Related)

Photo Credit: BaanTaksinStudio/Shutterstock

So, yeah, if you’re a convicted bank robber, then a financial company deserves to know, but your boss doesn’t have the right to ask about crimes that have no connection to your current job role. The Fair Credit Reporting Act restricts employers from obtaining information about your criminal history without your written consent unless you are a genuine security or safety risk.

Your Salary History (in Some States)

Photo Credit: Nattakorn Maneerat/Shutterstock

HR Dive writes that an increasing number of states have passed pay transparency laws prohibiting employers from asking about your salary history during the interview process. This protects you from ‘pay undercutting’—being offered a lower salary based on what you earned previously—and promotes fair compensation based on your skills and the job role.

Your Social Media Passwords

Photo credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

Your social media accounts are private, and your employer has no right to access them or request your login information. This should not be confused with business accounts, which you may be in charge of on behalf of your employer. Your boss cannot ask for your private passwords or pressure you into sharing your personal social media content.

Your Weight or Appearance

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Employers cannot discriminate against you based on your physical attributes unless they directly relate to the job requirements, for example, a minimum weight/height requirement for lifting heavy objects. The EEOC writes, “Unless the employer can demonstrate how the need is related to the job, it may be viewed as illegal under federal law.”

Information About Your Relationship Status or Partner

Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Unless they directly impact your professionalism, your personal relationships are irrelevant to your job performance. Your employer cannot ask you about who you live with, your marital status, or details about your partner, like their sex or employment status. This type of questioning can be seen as discriminatory and irrelevant to your job.

Your Immigration Status (Unless Legally Required)

Photo Credit: Kseniya Lanzarote/Shutterstock

The Immigration Reform and Control Act prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on their national origin or citizenship status so long as they are legally entitled to work in the United States. Beyond this, they cannot ask you about your immigration status or require you to provide specific documentation unless mandated by law.

Your Plans for Vacation

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

While many employees may choose to share their plans for enjoying their time off, your boss has no right to demand this information if you want to keep it secret. When you are on official sick leave or vacation time, you have a right to privacy and can use such legitimate benefits however you see fit.

To Work Without Pay

Photo Credit: Iammotos/Shutterstock

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guarantees minimum wage and overtime pay for most employees, so your boss cannot legally ask you to work ‘off the clock.’ They are also not permitted to pressure you into doing so or use threats, like removing bonuses or job perks, to try to coerce you into doing unpaid work against your will.

To Disclose Personal Information About Your Colleagues

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

If you enjoy a close relationship with one or more of your colleagues, your employer may ask you for personal details about them, like whether they were really sick on Monday! While they can ask for information about your colleagues’ work schedule or job performance, they cannot legally inquire about medical conditions, family situations, or personal circumstances.

To Be Dishonest

Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Your employer cannot ask you to lie or engage in any deliberately misleading or unethical activity, such as falsifying records, lying to clients, or engaging in any form of deception. You have the right to refuse such requests and should report any pressure to act unethically to human resources and/or the appropriate authorities.

To Engage in Sexual Harassment or Discrimination

Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits any form of sexual harassment, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or a hostile work environment. Your employer cannot ask you to participate in any form of inappropriate sexual conduct or discrimination based on anyone’s gender or sexual orientation, including your own!

To Perform Unsafe Tasks

Photo Credit: iofoto/Shutterstock

You have a legal right to be safe and physically protected while at work, and your boss should never request that you engage in any activity that is unsafe or without sufficient training, support staff, or safety equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment free of hazards.

To Participate in Illegal Activities

Photo Credit: Timm Creative/Shutterstock

No ethical, legitimate employer will ask you to act illegally, and anyone who claims such acts are ‘necessary’ for business is lying. Never commit fraud, counterfeiting, illegal disposal of documents or materials, safety violations, or financial misconduct on behalf of your boss—you will be liable to prosecution and potential criminal punishment.

To Work Excessive Hours Without Breaks

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

While employers have the right to set work schedules and manage workloads, they must comply with labor laws regarding maximum hours and rest periods. Depending on your location, job role, and work regulations, you will be entitled to specific breaks throughout your workday, especially if tiredness could result in safety concerns (e.g., bus or train divers).

To Waive Your Legal Rights

Photo Credit: create jobs 51/Shutterstock

You cannot be forced to waive your legal rights as a condition of employment, no matter what your boss tells you! This includes rights to fair compensation, safe working conditions, and protection from discrimination and harassment. If your employer attempts to pressure you into waiving your rights, report them immediately to the appropriate authorities.

More From Planning To Organize: 18 Things You’re Too Old To Be Doing Anymore

Photo Credit: BearFotos/Shutterstock

As we grow older, it’s a great time to reevaluate our choices and habits. In this article, we’ll explore 18 things you may still be doing even though you may be too old.

18 Things You’re Too Old To Be Doing Anymore

18 Habits You Probably Developed if You Weren’t Loved as a Child

Photo Credit: Ann in the uk/Shutterstock

All children deserve unconditional love and care. But unfortunately, whether they intend to or not, some parents don’t make their children feel as loved as they should. If you weren’t shown enough love as a child, you’re likely to recognize these 18 habits.

18 Habits You Probably Developed if You Weren’t Loved as a Child

17 American Attractions That Used to Attract Millions But Are Now Facing Extinction

Photo Credit: Sebastian Milatti/Shutterstock

Environmental issues, lack of interest, and changing urban spaces are all contributing to the decline of some of America’s most loved attractions. Here are 17 places that are facing extinction, threatening the tourism market across the country.

17 American Attractions That Used to Attract Millions But Are Now Facing Extinction